Outstanding Educator Award: Dr. Thomas C. Waldrop
Presented by Hu-Friedy
The Outstanding Periodontal Educator Award recognizes an exemplary periodontal faculty member who is an inspiration to students and whose career demonstrates excellence in teaching. This year’s recipient is Dr. Thomas C. Waldrop, tenured professor and director of postdoctoral periodontics at Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU’s) School of Dentistry. “I am humbled by Tom’s education and clinical expertise, demanding yet fair management style, and dedication,” says Dr. Harvey A. Schenkein, chair of the VCU Department of Periodontics. “I continue to be impressed by the level of quality to which this program has been raised under his leadership.”
The Virginia native is a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel who has served as a director and chairman for a number of residency and research programs, most notably at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. He has also held faculty positions at the Washington University School of Dental Medicine and the University of Texas Health Science Center.
In addition to his daily work, Dr. Waldrop had previously held roles as director and chairman of the American Board of Periodontology, a periodontics consultant to the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation, a member of the Review Committee on Periodontal Education, and a member of the AAP’s In-Service Examination Committee.
Throughout his career, Dr. Waldrop has trained more than 100 periodontal residents, directed over 20 resident masters’ theses, and supervised 34 theses. He is beloved among his students, past and present, many of whom continue hold fast to what they learned under Dr. Waldrop’s guidance.
“Whenever I encounter an obstacle in my private practice, I often envision a little angel Waldrop on my shoulder, flapping his wings in my ear and telling me that I should do what I know to be right, even if it’s going to be a little harder,” says Dr. Sam Malkinson, a periodontist who completed his specialty training at VCU. “One of the most important lessons we ever got from Dr. Waldrop was that we should never balk at doing something just because it presents a challenge to us.”
Another former student, periodontist Dr. Stephanie C. Voth, adds, “He models for others the proper sense of self-worth, makes you see your potential and helps guide you to achieving your fullest potential. I realized that during the course of my residency that I transformed; Dr. Waldrop was instrumental in my metamorphosis.”
Dr. Waldrop is a 1998 recipient of the AAP’s R. Earl Robinson Regeneration Award for research and has served as an investigator on a number of studies, including those focusing on early-onset periodontitis, mandibular implant overdentures, and guided bone regeneration. But perhaps his greatest impact on the profession lies beyond literature and is expressed through the influence he’s had on his students.
“Dr. Waldrop taught me how important it is to have strength of character,” says Dr. Malkinson. “He did this without ever uttering a word on the subject. Instead, he imparted his lesson by example. That, to me, is the best indication of an outstanding educator.”Dr. Michael S. Reddy